Suffolk leader backs Orwell crossings in Ipswich as Sandy Martin seeks more information

Colin Noble and Ben Gummer at the unveiling of the Upper Orwell Crossing proposal

Colin Noble and Ben Gummer at the unveiling of the Upper Orwell Crossing proposal - Credit: Archant

Suffolk County Council has written to cabinet ministers in Whitehall urging them to maintain their support for the Upper Orwell Crossings in Ipswich.

The three bridges in the waterfront area of the town are aimed at easing congestion in the Star Lane/Fore Street area and at opening up the Island Site in the Wet Dock for regeneration.

The project was championed by former MP Ben Gummer, and gained government funding of nearly £78m towards the £100m scheme.

However new MP Sandy Martin has said he is not in favour of the largest bridge – linking Cliff Quay with the West Bank of the Orwell – and would be seeking to divert the money for this to a northern by-pass.

He said today the county council had not been prepared to share the financial information about the project with him before the election – but he was looking forward to hearing more about the scheme. He has backed the two smaller bridges to open up the Island Site.

The county council has emphasised that the Upper Orwell Project is a fully-costed total scheme. It is not possible to build one or two elements of it.

Now council leader Colin Noble has written to Local Government Secretary Sajid Javid and Transport Secretary Chris Grayling emphasising the Conservative-controlled authority’s continuing support for the projects.

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He says: “A compelling business outline business case for this project resulted in the announcement, in the March 2016 Budget, of £77.546m funding from the Department of Transport. The local financial contribution of £19.1m is confirmed and available.”

An analysis of the scheme shows that it would provide very high value for money in easing congestion and bringing new business to the area.

Mr Noble also says the county council is working on providing a northern relief road for the town to ease congestion around the edge of Ipswich and to encourage more homes to be built.

He says: “It is not a case of either the Upper Orwell Crossings or a Northern Relief Road – Ipswich needs both if it is to grow and realise the ambitions we and our partners have for it.”

Mr Martin said: “We are not fighting a General Election any more so it is not necessary for me to make my position any clearer. He (Mr Noble) was not prepared to share the facts and figures with me before the election. I hope I will be able to hear more about it now.”

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